Scoring came from several different players for the youngest Cougars on Thursday night, as the freshmen hosted and defeated the Ceres Bulldogs in non-league action.
The opening quarter didn’t see either team get on the board, but the host Escalon team did score first, getting a touchdown from Ben Ferreira in the second quarter. A bad snap on the extra point attempt saw holder Ferreira quickly snatch it up and go in for the 2-point conversion, giving Escalon an 8-0 lead.
But Ceres answered back immediately, getting into the end zone on the kickoff return. They were stymied on the 2-point attempt, so Escalon had an 8-6 lead.
The young Cougars also scored on their next possession, answering the Ceres score. Ferreira notched the touchdown, with Bryce Vallee putting through the extra point to go up 15-6.
As time wound down in the first half, the teams exchanged interceptions; Ceres was the recipient of a fortuitous bounce off a Cougar helmet to get their pick. But then it was Co Northcutt’s turn, as the freshman stepped up to intercept a Ceres pass and gained some good yardage before being pushed out of bounds.
Escalon went into the break up by nine.
Ceres got the second half kickoff and worked their way down the field, connecting for a score with 5:41 to go in the third. They attempted the 2-point conversion but failed, trimming the Cougar lead to 15-12.
Mason Haverkamp took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown, weaving his way through the defense and finding the end zone. With the extra point, it was 22-12 Escalon. Ceres had to punt on their next possession and this time it was Northcutt who got in at the end of an Escalon drive, getting the rushing touchdown. The point after kick by Vallee was good for a 29-12 lead with 2:16 to play in the third.
Ceres scored what turned out to be their final touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter, on a 55-yard pass play with 9:45 to go in the contest. The 2-point attempt slipped through the hands of the intended receiver, but the Bulldogs chipped away, getting to within 29-18.
However, that was as close as they would get, as the Cougar freshmen collected two more scores in the final frame and began to utilize the entire roster.
Aydun Mello went in for a score to make it 35-18; extra point attempt failed.
The final touchdown came from Julian Garcia and the extra point was good, with the final score 42-18.
Mason Fiser started at quarterback and Max Gonzalez came in for the fourth quarter, each engineering some scoring drives.
Otto Perreira also added a fourth quarter sack of the Ceres quarterback.
“We played pretty well on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Joey Costa. “We also got the opportunity to get all of our kids lots of playing time as well.”
Ferreira had two touchdowns on the night as well as the 2-point conversion; single scores came from Northcutt, Mello, Haverkamp and Garcia.
“It was a big momentum changer when Mason Haverkamp returned the kickoff for a touchdown after they had scored,” Costa pointed out. “Our quarterback Mason Fiser did a good job running the offense.”
Defensively, the squad continued to play well, and while special teams did give up a kickoff return for a touchdown, the team in total played well enough to get the convincing win.
“Bryce Vallee was solid, making four PATs; he continues to be very solid and a big part of our success,” said Costa. “We do have plenty of things to clean up as we play TVL power Hilmar this week.”
That game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start on Thursday, Sept. 29 at Engel Field.